Reviews

(Duo Variations for Violin and Cello (performance by the Da Capo Chamber Players at  Bard College, NY)
..."beautiful, exquisitly felt...This masterful fourteen minute work was one of the glories of the evening. It had stunning melody and sonority with a poetic impulse and piquant rhythm."
John Keeler, Hudson-Catskill Newspapers March 18, 2011

(Journeys MSR Classics 1306)
(Additional reviews of this CD can be found on the AMAZON website)

I've been listening to Robert Baksa with secret pleasure for more than a decade -- secret because his music is so pleasurable and seemingly ingenuous. He apparently wants to write pieces easily enjoyed, a goal still sure to provoke the laughter of many. But -- flouting the music police -- I am now bravely out of the closet....

Those who criticize Baksa's music call it emotionally shallow and simplistic in form. The former criticism is a matter of personal taste, but the charge of simplicity just doesn't stand up. It is based on a reaction to surfaces rather than careful listening. Unless the standard is Babbitt or Boulez, Baksa's forms and techniques demonstrate enough skill and art to reward repeated hearings....

The performances express Baksa's gentle optimism beautifully. Melodies flow with seemingly effortless articulation and rich timbres.

Gently, optimistically, and warmly recommended.

Ron  Bierman, Music&Vision, September 2010

If ever there was a CD to put on at the end of a trying day, accompanied by a glass of wine and one's favorite slippers, this is it...In today's world it is a rare treat...(Baksa's) music is tonal, or more precisely modal, with the merest hint of cool jazz harmony woven into the neoclassical procedures.  It demands the highest level of musicianship yet always sounds grateful to play. The other quiet achievement of Baksa's music is that it doesn't sound derivative...generally this composer's work is free from cliche, calculated effects, or second-hand gestures.  It has real integrity, or perhaps the word is humanity...I see that my review has turned into a rave.  Good.  An unobtrusive release like this is liable to get lost among the umpteen reissues, photoshopped Wundekinder and big showy productions, but such agreeable, intimate music-making deserves to be noticed and enjoyed.
Phillip Scott, July/August 2010 Fanfare

Always skillfully and tastefully constructed, impeccably tailored to the instruments at hand….Its overall character might be likened to the music of Ned Rorem at its most accessible.
Walter Simmons, July/August 2010 Fanfare


Robert Baksa is a 72-year-old composer who's lived in Kinderhook for about 10 years. In 2008, the Diamond Opera Theatre of Hudson performed his one-act opera "Red Carnations." He writes deceptively simple yet inherently beautiful music, as displayed in the new collection "Journeys" (MSR Classics). The performances are by Annette Heim, flute, and Bret Heim, guitar, two artists from Alabama who've taken an obvious shine to Baksa's music.

The series of three sonatas has a fluent grace in the writing and a pitch-perfect ease in the performances. In the disc's finale, "Celestials," everything comes together into something more evocative, with movements that depict scenes of weather. Even Baksa's depictions of wind and rain storms are inviting.

Joseph Dalton is a regular contributor to the Times Union. Mar,21, 2010

(Journeys MSR Classics 1306)
If you love romantic melody and the sound of wind and guitar, this is a must have recording. If you find the technical aspects of music alluring, then the unrelenting and difficult passages of the "Sonata for Flute and Guitar" will give you more than enough reason to cheer the resilience of the talented players

All in all, here is a cherishable collection of modern musical delights and it's lyrical and it's challenging and it's worth any number of hearings.  Each one brings you something new.
J.Peter Bergman, Chatham Currier, January 14, 2010

(Journeys MSR Classics 1306)
CD by composer Robert Baksa, "Journeys." Features music for solo guitar, flute/guitar duo, and flute/viola/guitar trio, performed by the Heim Duo with violist Christine Bock. This is the kind of music that I am always looking to broadcast- smart, well-written,
and accessible music. The ease, melodicism and variety of Baksa makes it sound like he has a rare natural gift for composition.

Tony Morris, Classical Guitar Alive, Dec. 28, 2009

[Walking the Dog Theater Company and Diamond Opera Company of Hudson, NY]
"...a joint production of a one act 1925 play and a one act opera with a libretto based on the play by composer Robert Baksa proved to be a big hit.

The collaboration...did something unique in the world of theater and opera, by bringing "Red Carnations" both as a play and an opera to the public. Together they made a wonderful evening's entertainment.

"Red Carnations" is Baksa's second opera. Knowing and enjoying his music for many years one wondered what his opera would be like. It is a masterful work. ....This combination production is so splendid that it should go on national tour to a wide public."
John Paul Keeler, Register-Star, Sunday, May 25, 2008

[Letters from Emily Volume I of Sixteen new songs to Poems of Emily Dickinson]
"That there seems to be no "definitive" setting of any of Dickinson's poems reveals the multiplicity of meanings in her work that allows for a fresh insight or interpretation by each individual reader. Where Copland's settings emphasize the spaciousness of Dickenson's voice, Baksa reveals her personal intimacy with her subjects.  Where Copland's songs project the emotions of the poems outward as unto a large screen, Baksa's look inward to the private stirrings of the heart--drama versus lyricism...

Baksa's compositional style in these songs is based on choosing one or two musical motifs for the piano part that reflect or represent the main idea of the poem and using them creatively and expressively throughout the song...

The voice brings the text to life in flowing vocal lines that are enhanced by the musical fabric that the piano weaves for each song...the melodic lines are expressive of the words."
Judith Carmen, Journal of Singing March/April 2008

[Romance for Viola and Piano, Duo Sonata for Violin and Viola, Occasional Variations for Violin and Piano, Violin Sonata, Viola Sonata]
On Sunday ...a gala concert of the music of Columbia County Composer Robert Baksa was held to celebrate his 70th Birthday. Baksa is a one of a kind original composer in the period of the end of the 20th and beginning of the present Century ... Baksa is out of the loop of Academe ...[and}...remains free of all the fetters of officialdom. He is a true independent artist who dares to write real music. All the elements of the best in Western music are part of his musical palette. His music in Neo Nothing but pure Baksa.

The program began with a beautiful soaring “ Romance” from 2007 for Viola and Piano. A marvelous “Duo Sonata for Violin and Viola” also from 2007 followed. The work is the most wonderful work in that genre since Mozart wrote such duets to bail out his composer friend Michael Haydn. The work is by no means Mozartean but wholly Baksaean. The first half of the program ended with a stunning work of 2005 in 6 movements for violin and piano titled “Occasional Variations” a brilliant tour de force.

After intermission the most impressive work of the afternoon was the masterful “Violin Sonata of 2002”The first movement was called flowing and it sure did flow with fabulous sweep and lyricism. The second movement titled “calm” impressed as a deeply touching poignant quasi reciative of the soul to the heart of the beloved. The work ended with upbeat brilliance. The concert ended with a “Viola Sonata” which was a dramatic, poetic and joyful romp. The last movement titled “Joyous” had a flamboyant Hungarian flavor......The audience loved the program and ovations abounded
John Paul Keeler REGISTER-STAR, February 15, 2008

[Dallas Opera Apprentice tour]
"If the rousing applause the [singers] have received after almost every production of (Baksa"s)  Red Carnations is any indication, the Dallas Opera doesn't have to worry about its future."

Dallas Morning News May 2, 2006

[Housman Songs, Emily Dickinson Songs]
"Soprano Mary Hack and Baritone Keith Spencer gave a recital featuring the wonderful songs of American composer Robert Baksa...One of the chief pleasures of the afternoon was the composer telling the audience how he came to write the songs and of his interest in the poetry of both Emily Dickinsons and A.E.Housman.  Baksa, in his charming way, became the star of the afternoon."

John Paul Keeler REGISTER-STAR

[Duo Concertante for Harpsichord and Guitar]
"Baksa's work marries the natural plucked sounds of the Guitar and Harpsichord with finely wrought melodies and beautiful triadic harmonies."

Rob Haskins, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, March/April 2005

"...the flute music of Robert Baksa...with its lucid structure and effusive and natural melodic content...is very easy to enjoy. Baksa...is basically a new-Classicist with a strong feel for fundamental and tautly formed musical architecture...it is always ingratiating without being overly simplistic."
Peter Burwasser, FANFARE, June/July 2004

[Flute Sonatas 1-3, Aria for Flute, Monologue, Soliloquy]
"A Breath of Fresh Air...Baksa's music for flute conveys the freshness of sunlight and limitless space as it explores the expressive capabilities of the instrument...a deep love and understanding of the flute's capabilities that will surely make him friends with flutists and flute fanciers everywhere...This is not a composer to torture the tessitura of the flute and make it do unnatural things, but rather one who delights in the expressive, emotional range of what the flute does best. A charming recording. You will like it."
Atlanta Audio Society, Spring 2004 (online)

[Hudson Festival Overture]
"This piece is full of fun...yet it has a sophisticated sound and lots of musical goodies...This particular work is very light and uplifting and would please the most picky of your contemporary-scared students--or audience for that matter. It has melodies that can be hummed and a rhythm, that for the most part, can be tapped."
Sheri Stoner-Harris, American Music Teacher, Aug-Sept 2002

[Hudson Festival Overture, Spring Games, Summer Rituals, Autumn Tapestries, Winter Games]
"...a stunning piano duo concert featuring the music of American Composer Robert Baksa...One could count on one hand composers of the late 20th and early 21st centuries whose music would hold an audience's interest, let alone enthusiasm for an entire evening. Baksa, whose music (was) played so marvelously by Elena Winther and Vladimir Pleshakov, delighted the audience and brought forth and overflow of enthusiastic bravos."
John Paul Keeler, Register-Star, November 19, 2003

[Autumn Tapestries for two pianos]
"...it must be said that Mr. Baksa's [music] is always beautifully and sensitively written, with traditional musical values always honored, including those of voice leading and species counterpoint. Yet this fact, and the real approachability of his music, should not make it feel that it could have been written at an earlier period.
For me his music is a truly modern event and I want to hear more of it."
William Carragan, Musicologist, Harpsichordist, Contributing Editor to the Bruckner Edition,
Vienna, Music Critic for The Independent,
September 17, 2002


Festival participants Bret and Annette Heim then took the stage for a dazzling performance of a dazzling new work called Celestials by Robert Baksa....the two virtuosic roles were at once independent and divergent, and carefully sewn together in precarious, thrilling counterpoint.
Reviews, PAN magazine, England, September 2002

"The first half of the program ended with American Composer Robert Baksa's "Winter Pleasures" sonata for two pianos. This great contemporary work is more impressive with each hearing. The duo pianists were in superb form, relishing every measure of this stunning work. The outer movements of the sonata sparkled with melodic play, rhythmic bite and wit. The middle movement, titled "Tenderly" overflowed with poignancy and poetic expression."
John Paul Keeler, Register-Star, Hudson Valley Newspapers, February 22. 2002

"Robert Baksa's new piece, getting it's third performance here...was a thoroughly catchy but challenging work, the kind you want to hear again right after you've heard it for the first time...It is crisply rhythmic, a little jazzy, intensely personal and whistleable. The audience loved it..."
Ron Emery, Albany Times Union, February 18, 2002

"Baksa's new sonata...is a winner...Baksa is a composer of distinct personality. A superb melodist, Baksa's beautiful work abounds in impressive contrapuntal and fugal effectiveness. Through composed without filler or note spinning, it evidences piquant harmony and rhythmic enlivenment. It is eminently pianistic. An underlying music energy unites the three movements producing drama , poignance, humor and joy."
John Paul Keeler, Register-Star, Hudson Valley Newspapers, December 14, 2001

[Winter Pleasures for two pianos]
"...the piece was performed well and reflected much of what this composer is known for: lyricism, melody, intricate harmonic writing and counterpoint...The overall sense was very Russian, very wintery, very beautiful indeed."
J. Peter Bergman, The Independent, December 14, 2001

"Baksa's (Cello Sonata) is music of broad, passionate intensity. It is thoroughly tonal and almost embarrassingly attractive...The sonata is obviously very difficult to play, but it is extremely rewarding too. On Thursday, the first movement drew a burst of applause, and at the end the applause was enthusiastic and sprinkled with a gratifying number of shouts and whistles."
R
obert Jones, Charleston Post and Currier, June 1, 2001

[Cello Sonata]
"...Robert Baksa's "Cello Sonata" (1980) (began) with a long, winding melodic line which exploited the full beauty of the cello's sound. Sounding completely original, Baksa's Cello Sonata is firmly in the grand romantic tradition with beautiful themes and dramatic musical high points" (Piccolo Spoleto Chamber Music Concert)
Jeff Johnson, Charleston Post and Currier, June 1, 2001

[Sonata da Giardino solo Guitar]
  "While the garden alluded to in the title of Robert Baksa's Sonata da Giardino is not depicted in any programmatic way, its spirit is conveyed through the emotional exuberance of this robust music...it does augment an area of repertory in which the guitar is particularly deficient--the formal, multimovement sonata. .. the vocabulary of this work is likely the most readily accessible of the scores discussed in this review..."

Calvin Elliker, Music Library_ Notes, March 2001